The first woman on Canadian dollar bill: Viola Desmond

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, left, Minister of Status of Women Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, right, and Wanda Robson unveil an image of Viola Desmond who will be featured on the new Canadian ten dollar bill during a ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada Thursday Dec. 8, 2016. Robson is Viola Desmond's sister. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

The new Canadian ten dollar bill will come out in 2018, and on it, there will be a female portrait whose name is Viola Desmond, a black biracial woman form Nova Scotia. She played a vital role in overthrowing Canada’s apartheid.

Have you ever thought about that you couldn’t choose the seat as you wish when going to the theater to watch the movie? Viola Desmond headed to a theater to watch movie The Dark Mirror in 1946. However she was told that she was not allowed to buy the ticket in the lower area, because the seats there were provided only for the white people, and people having other colors of skin could only have seats in upper boxes. However, Desmond still entered lower seats area, but afterwards, she was forced and dragged away by staff, and even trapped in detention center for one night. Actually, the most serious problem is the racial segregation policy of the theater, but she was convicted of tax evasion and fined and sentenced to one month.

Heritage Minutes: Viola Desmond (photo by screenshot via YouTube)
Heritage Minutes: Viola Desmond (photo by screenshot via YouTube)

Viola Desmond owned her business which founded beauty school for other ebonies, because all the beauty schools in Canada did not allow black people to attend at that time. She also found that cosmetic company completely ignored the color needs of black women, so she started to launch the corresponding cosmetics.

She filed a retrial to Roseland Film Theatre with the encouragement of church leader, yet it failed. Afterwards, she kept asking an appeal. Different from another black social activist Rosa Parks, Viola Desmond accused a private institution of its apartheid instead of demonstration to public transportation. Therefore, Desmond encountered numerous difficulties in appealing.

Photo via The Canadian Encyclopedia

Waiting for 64 years, in 2010, her charges were finally overthrown, and justice can be done, although she also had a chance to witness the removal of apartheid in 1954 during her lifetime. If she didn’t step forward, the Canadian black community may not be aware of injustice of racial discrimination from “micro-politics.”

The apartheid in North America exists not only in Canada. In the neighboring United States, from 1896 to 1965, there was a policy called “Jim Crow Law” which separated people by the color of skin in various public places under the banner of “segregation but equality”, and it was seriously discriminated against colored people. For instance, the public drinking fountains were divided into white and tinted areas, and the waiting room in train stations and toilets were also under such policies.

Black History Month Jim Crow Relics, Jan. 27, 2016 photo shows a sign marking the entrance to the colored area at the Montpelier Train Depot segregation exhibit in Orange, Va. Preservationists at President James Madison’s Montpelier estate, where the white-and-yellow depot is located, decided to keep the segregated waiting rooms when the structure was renovated in 2010. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The removal of apartheid is a huge progress for eliminating racial discrimination without doubt, which however, doesn’t mean that the security, right and interest of colored people are well protected. Even American white supremacy has showed signs of revival after Trump took office. For racial equality, more people from different backgrounds, nationalities and complexions need to work together.

White and black passengers sat side by side in Norfolk buses, April 24, 1956 as racial segregation on intrastate transportation ended under U.S. Supreme Court decision. (AP Photo)